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Shuttered Bridges To Stay That Way With New Jersey Transportation Fund Depleted

DOVER, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Infrastructure problems on roads and bridges are causing great pain in New Jersey, and the source for funding to fix them is up in the air.

As CBS2's Valerie Castro reported, the bright orange signs reading "detour" and "bridge closed ahead" at the Prospect Street Bridge in Dover, New Jersey will stay there for quite a bit longer.

It is one of two bridges that deteriorated to the point of having to be shut down in New Jersey, and with the state's Transportation Trust Fund strapped for cash and about to run out, it is another of hundreds of bridges where work has been put on hold.

"It's caused all kinds of traffic problems," said Dover Town Mayor James Dodd. "This is our main street in town."

Dodd said the problem did not crop up overnight.

Dover town officials said they first raised concerns about the safety of the bridge to the state back in 2010, but it wasn't closed down until November of last year.

Dodd said he has been told it should be repaired by this December -- if the funding is in place.

"I don't think it's realistic," he said, "but that's what we're being told by the assistant commissioner."

Residents said the bridge has desperately needed work for as long as they can remember.

"As far as what it looks like now, it's been like that for a long time," one woman said. "So God knows what could happen."

The shutdown of the bridge redirects traffic away from places such as the antique restoration shop that Mark Lindeblad owns.

"I'm sure it's an annoyance for people coming down to our shop to visit our facility," Lindeblad said.

The annoyance also cuts into response time for emergencies.

"This is a residential area up here, and we need to have emergency vehicles get to the area," Dodd said.

A proposed increase in the gas tax to raise money for the repair work is something most residents are not fond of. But Mayor Dodd said it may be the only choice they have.

"If that's what they need to do, then whatever the state needs to do to provide funding, it's important for people to be able to travel our roads," he said.

Speaking to WCBS 880's Peter Haskell on Monday, New Jersey state Transportation Commissioner Jamie Fox said there might be other options besides a gas tax.

Fox said he knows increasing the gas tax is an obvious solution, but in the past, Gov. Chris Christie has been resistant.

"The governor has said that everything is on the table to replenish the
transportation trust fund," Fox said.

The 14.5 cents-per-gallon tax on gas in New Jersey is one of the lowest in the country.

Fox has asked the New Jersey Legislature to act now in order to find new funding. And until a solution is found, the orange "bridge closed ahead" signs will continue to show up.

Christie did not mention the Transportation Trust Fund in his State of the State address on Tuesday.

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